LEXINGTON, Ohio – Two past Pirelli World Challenge champions won the first races of the weekend for the series’ second-to-last Sprint weekend of 2017 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, in Alvaro Parente (GT) and Lawson Aschenbach (GTS).
In a dominant flag-to-flag drive from pole, Alvaro Parente won his third GT race of the season as he continues his title defense. Driving the No. 9 K-PAX Racing McLaren 650S GT3, Parente was never headed over the course of the 50-minute race.
With a late-race restart coming after Pablo Perez Companc beached his No. 69 Mercedes-AMG GT3 at Turn 10, Parente just had to hold off the pair of Cadillac Racing Cadillac ATS-V.Rs, Michael Cooper and Johnny O’Connell in the Nos. 8 and 3 cars.
Bryan Sellers was fourth in the second K-PAX McLaren with Patrick Long scoring a top-five for Batavia, Ohio-based Wright Motorsports, in that team’s No. 58 Porsche 911 GT3 R.
Kyle Marcelli was sixth in both his and the No. 61 R. Ferri Motorsport Ferrari 488 GT3 team’s return to the championship.
Top-finishing GTA driver was James Sofronas in his No. 14 GMG Porsche, thus giving GMG its second win on the day after George Kurtz won GTS Am earlier in the day (below).
Lawson Aschenbach finally got on the board in Pirelli World Challenge GTS competition in 2017, giving the Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R its first win in the series. It has won two races in a row in the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge ranks with Stevenson Motorsports, a team Aschenbach competes for there, but drives an Audi R8 LMS in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
Aschenbach, a several-time PWC champion including back-to-back in GTS in 2014 and 2015 with Blackdog Speed Shop, became the sixth driver with the sixth different manufacturer to win this year in class. Chevrolet follows Ford, KTM, SIN, Porsche and Panoz, which had swept both races on each of the five weekends thus far.
This race was crash-strewn with several cars going out and much of the race run under yellow flag conditions. Alas, in the green flag period, Aschenbach got around polesitter Harry Gottsacker in his Performance Motorsports Group Ginetta G55 off the start and never looked back. Ian James recovered from sixth on the grid to come to second in his Panoz Avezzano GT, with Gottsacker third and GTS Am class winner George Kurtz fourth in a GMG McLaren 570S GT4.
The win is the 23rd in his PWC career, which has seen him win titles in GT, GTS and TC.